Overseas countries and territories of the EU
Article 198 of the Treaty on the functioning of the EU (ex Article 182 TEC) associates to the European Union the non-European countries and territories which have special relationships with certain Member States. The aim of this association is promotion of the economic and social development of the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) and the establishment of close economic relations between them and the Union as a whole. In accordance with the principles set out in the Preamble of the Treaty, the association serves primarily to further the interests and prosperity of the inhabitants of these countries and territories, in a manner leading to the economic, social and cultural development to which they aspire. The regulations relating to the association of OCTs to the Union have evolved in line with the arrangements applicable to the ACP States in the framework of the Lomé Conventions.
The regulations currently in force relating to the association of overseas countries and territories to the EC apply to twenty-four OCTs dependent on France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Denmark (Greenland [Decision 2014/137]). While they come under the wing of Member States, and their nationals are recognised since 1996 as EU citizens, the OCTs do not form part of the Union, but they are associated with it and thus benefit from the European Development Fund (EDF) and the same types of development cooperation measures as ACP States [Decision 2001/822]. EU solidarity towards them is reflected chiefly by the near free access to the European market for products originating in the OCTs, by the implementation of export stabilisation systems and by financial and technical cooperation drawing on the resources of the EDF and the European investment Bank.
The fields covered by this financial and technical cooperation are agricultural and rural development, fisheries, industrial development, the exploitation of mining and energy potential, transport and communications, the development of trade and services, regional cooperation and cultural and social cooperation. Depending on the development level and situation of the OCTs, an attempt is also made to establish firm cooperation between them and the ACP States. The partnership arrangements in favour of OCTs include many elements contained in the fourth Lomé Convention and establish a three-way Commission/Member State/OCT partnership. The mid-term review of the partnership arrangements aims to improve the rights of individuals and the status of OCT nationals in the European Union.